In previous installments, we brought you video of the amazing levitating Slinky, and Peter Barss wondered how the Slinky had been calibrated to work exactly this way. I asked physicists to come forth, and they have—not just physicists, but an astrophysicist. (Who better to explain levitation?) Saint Mary's grad Jonathan Dursi, now a senior research associate with the Canadian Centre for Astrophysics, furnished this detailed by elegant explanation: Sometimes you hear that there's three things taught in first year Engineering (or Physics, or whatever); things fall down; F=Ma; and you can't push on a string.* It's exactly those three things at play...

One of my favorite photographers, Cory Katz, a 25-year-old autodidact, has a show on at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design, from now until July 16. Katz springs from that unlikely hotbed of artistic talent that is New Waterford. Yes, New Waterford. ...

The Atlantic's Derek Thompson explains it in four terse sentences: Europe has Greece. We have Mississippi. Europe uses the term "permanent bailouts." We call it "Medicaid." And he illustrates the point with a map from the Economist: Thompson again: [T]he poorest states like Mississippi, New Mexico, and West Virginia rely on ginormous transfers of federal taxes in the form of unemployment benefits and Medicaid. Like the United States, the euro zone is all on one currency. Unlike the United States, the euro zone collects a teensy share of total taxes at the EU level and has no legacy of permanent fiscal transfers from the...

Yesterday, I posted a slo-mo  video of a Slinkeys, which, when dropped while their springs were completely distended, appeared to levitate momentarily, until their springs had time to re-compress, whereupon they began their expected downward trajectory. My pal Peter Barss (who is descended from a real pirate, kids) has a question "for anyone who remembers their physics better than I do." During most of the its fall, the bottom of the Slinky remains absolutely motionless, which, to my mind, means the gravitational force acting on the slinky pulling it down is exactly balanced by the force compressing the bottom of the...

Every once in a while, between pleas from search engine optimizers, deposed African Generals, and cut-rate Viagra pushers, spam coughs up a gem. Like the 5,711-word message I just received from Father Yahweh, yea Jehovah, Most High God, aka Linda Newkirk of Little Rock, Arkansas. It began like this: It can now be reported that many of the wildfires in the western United States have been started by highly trained and well equipped foreign terrorists. It can also be reported that these terrorists are also responsible for the numerous explosions that occured in Michigan on the 6th and 7th of June...

All the actions is in the first 140 seconds.The remaining four minutes of explanation, involving claims of "information transfer" and "signals," strike me as, frankly, bulltwaddle. Much more plausible is the explanation furnished by Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish, which in turn came from an even more thorough explanation on Rhett Allain's blog at Wired.com. What you're seeing: If a slinky is hung by one end such that its own weight extends it, and that slinky is then released, the lower end of the slinky will not fall or rise, but will remain briefly suspended in air as though levitating. Explained: [T]he best thing is to...

When information is presented in a format computer programs can read, as opposed to a static, telephone directory-style list, fresh insights spring from the data. Contrarian friend Gus Reed prepared a compendium of revelations arising from Elections Nova Scotia's annual political donations report—once we liberated it from the cloistered format favored by the former Chief Electoral Officer. Some examples: Does Nova Scotia have a party of the rich? Not according to the donations made in 2010. When Gus plotted the proportion of donations against their size, all three major parties showed a remarkably similar distributions: Vote tallies for the three major parties in...

In a series of posts last September, Contrarian revealed that Nova Scotia's Chief Electoral Officer had degraded the format used to report political donations over $50. For the first time, she released the file as a scanned PDF that cannot be searched or readily copied to other formats. Helpful Contrarian readers promptly hacked* McCulloch's degraded files, enabling us to republish the data in the searchable, text-grab-friendly format used in previous years’ reports. Today's long overdue follow-up provides the data in two new, even more useful and interesting formats: An Excel spreadsheet readers can view, parse, and re-use in ways limited only by their imaginations and...